Welcome to the SSM DBA program

Welcome to our PhD programme! The Swiss School of Management is pleased to introduce you to the Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Management.

Objective of this programme of studies is to fulfil the challenging demands, which constitute the doctoral level in form of best Higher Education practice and superior quality standards. The academic purpose is contributing to existing knowledge and/or extending it through new discoveries, extension of existing theories, frameworks, and scientific concepts, but also includes research on new theory.

It is the special approach of our programme to enable our students not only to award the Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Management, but also the Master of Research (MRes). Through completion of additional course work and by successful defence of a research proposal a Master of Research will be awarded while processing the PhD programme.

The overall outcome of this doctoral programme of studies supports Graduates in their academic and/or professional career development. The programme of studies is considered as relevant, rich, and academically valid and is in line and comparable with national and international standards of Higher Education on this level of studies.

The Programme provides high-quality doctoral training that equips our students and graduates to produce high quality research in their specialised fields. We ensure that you do not walk this journey alone. We provide you with academic and professional training to prepare you well for your career.

The Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) in Economics and Management is a research based doctoral programme of study which involves taught elements and is the highest level of degree a student can achieve.

With a PhD you’ll have the ability to traverse the academic world. With an internationally recognised qualification, you can pursue roles including: Researcher and academic, Professorships and lecturing, Consultant and subject matter expert.

The opportunity to take up independent research through the Swiss School of Management Doctoral Program is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences we can offer you. Candidates will undertake independent and original research supervised by academic experts and research leaders.

A PhD degree is useful to develop advanced knowledge and experience in your chosen field of specialisation. Researching and writing a thesis refines and cultivates your expertise and theoretical understanding within your chosen subject matter. Studying for a PhD provides you with a unique and exciting opportunity to explore a research topic in real depth.

Traditionally, a PhD involves between three to four years of study in which the student completes a substantial piece of original research presented as a

thesis or dissertation. On doctoral level it is essential that students understand the superior challenges of academic work they are expected to demonstrate and defend in their Viva.

This program is suited to applicants who have some prior research experience and are interested in pursuing a career in research, wish to gain an internationally recognised qualification and want to enhance their employment opportunities.

It is the special approach of our programme to enable our students not only to award the Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Management, but also the Master of Research (MRes). Through completion of additional course work and by successful defence of a research proposal a Master of Research will be awarded while processing the PhD programme.

Upon successful completion of the programme, PhD graduates will be able to produce original research or advanced program at doctoral level. They are able to conceptualise, design and implement projects for the generation of significant new knowledge and/or understanding.

As a PhD graduate you award the skills to create, interpret and disseminate knowledge which extends the forefront of the chosen discipline and you will be able to disseminate the research findings by publishing, conducting and participating in academic journals, forum and seminars, etc.


General Study Information


Duration of Programme

The standard period of the PhD programme study is three years.

Begin of Study

Enrolments are generally accepted throughout the year. Intakes will be announces on the website or by writing. Individual academic achievements such as the portfolio of expertise and for example Intensive courses or tutor coaching services can be taken at any time.

Learning Structure

The programme of studies is aligned to international standards of Higher Education and fulfils the criteria of the process of Harmonisation of Higher Education in Europe accordingly. The full PhD programme consists in general of three main consecutive stages: Coursework, Research Lab (Data Collection and Analysis) and the Doctoral Thesis (Write-up and Defense). Coursework consists of five taught Research Method modules being delivered in three workshops of physical student presence. The successful completion of the first stage of the PhD programme allows the candidate to enter to the Research Lab to collect, edit and analyze data. The third and final stage of the process of the PhD programme is the write-up of your Doctoral Thesis.

Mode of Study

The PhD programme is based on research oriented and part-time study model. Residential study, web- based-learning, blended learning, distance learning are combined with work-based-study supported by systemic coaching or supervised by faculty and teaching staff.


Each module is assessed by one assignment. It forms a paper work addressing all Intended Learning Outcomes of the module.

Dissertation and Viva

PhD candidates are requested to submit a doctoral thesis, which fulfils the criteria of independent research following acknowledged standards of empirical research. The thesis consists of 100,000 words (+/- 10%). The PhD candidate will defend their thesis through a Viva voce.

Structure and Schedule


PhD In Economics and Management

The PhD Programme structure is aligned with inter- national standards of Postgraduate Education and fulfils the criteria of the process of Harmonisation of Higher Education in Europe (Bologna Process) ac- cordingly.

The first stage of the PhD programme consist of coursework that gives the candidate an overview of the entire research process, and is aimed at acquir- ing fundamental research skills.

The course work consists of the five mandatory Modules. The five mandatory modules will be deliv- ered as taught modules covered in three general Workshops. Each Workshop typically covers one or more modules. The coursework awards successful students 60 ECTS credits.

The modules are delivered interactively and are based on actual knowledge and research in this pathway. The “Research Methods” modules being taught via lectures/seminars with physical student presence. A distance learning version will be intro- duced as alternative form of study as well.

Students who want top-up with the Master of Re- search (MRes), or those who have decided to follow the Master of Research (MRes) track only, have to continue with three additional elective modules (10 ECTS Credits each). If the candidate has passed suc- cessful additional coursework a Research Proposal is required. The Research Proposal is the final work for being awarded with the Degree of the Master of Re- search (MRes).

Only the successful completion of all five modules entitles students to progress to the second stage, the Research Lab to collect, edit and analyze data.

The third and final stage of the process of the PhD programme is the write-up. Normally this will require additional analyses, and the time- consuming task of presenting findings clearly and without errors. After six months a draft version should be ready for submission to internal and external readers. Processing readers’ comments may take up to three months, after which a date will be set for the oral defense the so called viva voce (VIVA).

Workshop OUTLINES - Modules

Research Methods

Professional and academic research are vital necessities for modern management to forge ahead. Research is the process of asking the right and relevant questions, and of gathering and analyzing the necessary data in a systematic and methodologically sound manner. An important aspect of sound professional and academic research is to embed the research within the body of existing knowledge (applied research), and to add to it (generating new knowledge).

This module will guide you through the research process, from the formulation of the topic, to critically detecting and reviewing relevant literature, designing the research project and choosing appropriate methodologies, collecting and analyzing the data, and writing the report. Especially for those who are new to research, this workshop will offer a helicopter view of the approaches that researchers use to answer research questions. The other workshops will zoom in on specific parts of the research process, and on specific methodologies that can be employed.

Learning Objectives

  • Formulate research topic in clear terms.
  • Formulate research objectives and questions, and hypotheses and propositions.
  • Carry out a critical review of literature relevant to the topic at hand.
  • Essential skills in reviewing literature: search for recent and relevant articles in (electronic) libraries and on the Internet; using tools to structure the review; know how to use systematic referencing; summarize the review concisely.
  • Understand the key methodologies used in modern research. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Creatively combine various approaches to generate relevant data.
  • Have a good knowledge of the various methods of data collection.
  • Be familiar with statistical concepts like sampling, and hypothesis testing. Have an understanding of the main statistical (descriptive and inferential) techniques used to analyze data.
  • Know how to structure the report, and the main requirements of a high quality professional or academic report.
  • Be familiar with ethical considerations in research, including the concept of plagiarism.


The assessment will be based on one assignment. The assignment consists of two parts. In part one you will be asked to evaluate parts of a sample research proposal written by somebody else. In the second part you are invited to draft a rough plan for your own research project.

In the assignment you are asked to:

  • Clearly describe the topic;
  • Formulate research objectives and questions;
  • Identify and summarize at least five articles relevant to the study;
  • Design your research (in terms of approaches; methodologies; and strategies), and to motivate why the chosen design is effective in meeting the research objectives.
Quantitative Methods & Survey Design

Numbers play an important role in research. Statistical skills are critical to understanding a lot of what goes on in society. Many of us find statistics hard.

One reason is that understanding statistics requires mathematical skills. The mathematical skills needed seldom go beyond operations that all students are familiar with – adding, subtracting, multiplication and division. This module will introduce basic and advanced statistics in an intuitive way. Concepts are introduced using examples that students will easily recognize from daily life. Although we refrain from discussing advanced topics in statistics, the workshop paves the way to exploring more advanced statistics.

A second reason why some students have a fear of statistics is the gap that exists between understanding the statistical concepts on the one hand and applying the concepts to reality. This workshop introduces the student to descriptive and inferential statistics. All techniques will be illustrated with easy-to-understand examples.

In the process, this workshop will zoom in on important topics in survey design: sampling techniques; validity and reliability; and data cleaning.

Learning Objectives

  • Ability to design a survey (sample; questionnaire)
  • Understand basic descriptive statistics
  • Understand the concepts used in inferential statistics
  • Understand which statistical tests and techniques can be used in a variety of settings
  • Be able to perform, interpret and report statistical tests.


Students will be assessed in one assignment.

The assignment will challenge the candidate to draft a plan of analysis, for his or her research, based on a draft of the data collection instrument to be used in the research.

Qualitative Methods

This workshop is designed to help qualitative researchers with all aspects of their qualitative research project from start to finish. It discusses the key philosophies underpinning qualitative research and design – with a focus on research in management – and assesses the key advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches.

We will zoom in on aspects of research design for qualitative studies. The core part of the workshop elaborates qualitative research methods that have been touched upon in the workshop on research methods: action research; case study research; ethnographic research; grounded theory; interviews; participant observation; and document analysis. All techniques will be discuss the various approaches of that technique, along with strengths and weaknesses, and examples.

In a separate block the workshop will discuss the analysis of qualitative data, which is fundamentally different from analyzing quantitative data. After an overview of the various methods and techniques that can be used when analyzing qualitative data – including the use of dedicated software – the principles of hermeneutics, semiotics and narrative analysis will be taught and trained.

In a concluding block the workshop will address issues of write-up and publication, with a focus on the differences from writing up non-qualitative studies.

Learning Objectives

  • Familiarize the participants with the fundamentals of qualitative research
  • Understand the pros and cons of qualitative research as compared to quantitative research
  • Have a sound understanding of the various methods and techniques in qualitative research
  • Ability to use the various methods and techniques of qualitative research
  • Obtain the various skills needed for carrying out qualitative research: formulating and asking questions; listening; summarizing; analyze qualitative data; write-up.

This course will not make use of software dedicated to analysis of qualitative research. The use of Nvivo is the topic of an elective course.


The assignment will be based on the application of various methods and techniques of qualitative research to one’s own research (even if the study will be mainly quantitative).

Essential Tools

The module will introduce you to essential tools for doing research at doctoral level. The toolbox offers a rich set of tools. The focus will be on STATA. The STATA package is one of the main packages used by researchers doing serious research. A fully operational permanent license for the latest version of STATA is included in the study fees.

Top-Up To Master Of Research

In many cases, candidates will need to master techniques that are only touched upon in the workshops and the related mandatory modules. Whenever this is the case, they will be given access to modules available on our e-learning platform. All students have the option to upgrade the mandatory coursework to a Master of Business Research, by studying three elective modules. Doctoral candidates will have access to elective modules at a 50% discount of the normal fees. Elective modules recommended or prescribed by supervisors, can be accessed for free.


Candidates are requested to submit and defend a doctoral thesis.

The topic of the thesis has to be one of the following broad field of research:

  • Strategic Management
  • Functional Areas of Business
    • Finance
    • Human Resource Management
    • Marketing
    • Production and Operations Management
    • Logistics Management
  • Business Environment
  • Public Policies
  • International Economics
  • Specific Sectors of the Economy

General Entry Requirements


Candidates with Master’s Degree

Candidates need to have completed a significant research project, dissertation or thesis, at university level. Candidates must be in possession of a cognate Master’s Degree; i.e., it has to be awarded by an officially acknowledged Higher Education Institution.

Equally admitted are Graduates not having a Master’s Degree, but another cognate Degree being directly comparable to a Postgraduate Degree, which is equivalent to level 7 of studies. This regulation acknowledges differences, which may internationally exist on national levels.

All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English or German are required to submit official evidence of English or German language proficiency.

Acceptance by the Department

Meeting our academic requirements does not guarantee entry. You must demonstrate an ability to research independently, and possess a high level of theoretical understanding.

Acceptance is subject to staff availability for supervision. A committee decides whether your qualifications suffice for admission as a doctoral candidate. The department’s committee usually meets at regular intervals.


Quality Assurance on National Level of Further Education


SSM is certified to the standard of Swiss Further Education by EduQua.

EduQua is a Public Private Partnership with e.g. the Swiss Federation for Adult Learning and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs for Quality Assurance in HE in Switzerland (SQS).

Certificate of Accreditation and excerts from online data base of EduQua are displayed on the following pages.


Application and Enrolment


How to apply: step by step from Application to Enrolment

1. Application and Biographical Information (Portfolio)

To apply for a PhD programme, please submit first the application form and provide us your biographical data. For this purpose, use the student portfolio form at next. The student portfolio is used to assess whether an applicant is eligible for a Doctorate. In case of acknowledgement, the candidate receives a letter of acceptance. You can download the forms at our website or use the application form which you will get at the Office of Admissions.

The Application form will ask you to provide biographical and academic information, to detail your educational and extracurricular activities. Information must be complete with exact dates given on each entry. Please fill in the form carefully and as far as you can, so that your application can be edited as soon as possible. All Documents has to be submitted in electronic version (PDF or jpg-Format) to the Office of Admissions.

2. Letter of Acceptance

SSM will notify you of the results of your application. Await the decision! In the case of acknowledgement, the student receives a letter of acceptance.

3. Educational Agreement and Study Fees

After receiving the letter of acceptance, please fill in the educational agreement. As soon as the study contract has been signed and submitted (an electronic versions / pdf-file can be submitted via email), the application fee and the study fee have been paid for at least the first semester, the student receives a confirmation of enrolment and can start with study.

4. Begin of Study

Together with your student counsellor, an individual study plan can be prepared or discussed at a personal meeting or at an introductory seminar at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment Documentation


In order to be enrolled into the DBA programme at the University students must submit the following documents in either one of the following languages: English, German:

  • Passport or ID-Card (photocopy or scan as pdf file)
  • Certificate from an accredited secondary school, High School diploma, VWO, Baccalauréat, Maturité Fédérale, German Abitur or equivalent.
  • University degree certificates (Bachelor, Master etc.)
  • Official Transcript of Records (educational records) / Curriculum (a certificate issued by his University / Faculty which contains all the marks that the student received for each discipline during his University studies, in each semester, and the ECTS numbers for each discipline)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Evidence of English or German language proficiency (Toefl, Goethe Institute, Cambridge, or equivalent))

Please note: The original documents or original translations shall be submit on request or have to be given to your student counsellor.

Documents in other languages must be translated into one of the aforementioned languages and legalized by a notary public in the country of origin.

If necessary school and university certificates and documents are required in certified form (Apostille), plus the following:

  • Passport photography (jpg or other file format)
  • A non-refundable application fee
  • Application form Portfolio – dated and signed in original (available on our website or at the office of admissions)


Short Facts Overview


Qualification Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The programme consists of three main consecutive stages: Coursework, Rese- arch Lab (Data Collection and Analysis) and the Doctoral Thesis (Write-up and Defense). Coursework consists of five taught Research Method modules being delivered in three workshops of physical student presence. The success- ful completion of the first stage allows the candidate to enter to the Research Lab to collect, edit and analyze data. The third and final stage of the process of the PhD programme is the write-up of your Doctoral Thesis.


60 ECTS Credits by coursework

Begin of Study

Enrolments are generally accepted throughout the year. Intakes will be announces on the website or by writing.

Duration of Programme

3 Years / 6 Semester. Extension of study will be granted on request.


Completed master’s degree (or equiva- lent) Evidence of English or German language proficiency.

PhD Programme


The PhD will expand your research skills as well as practical experience in your company.
A higher level of education makes you indispensable as an employee and opens doors for new challenges and tasks. In addition, you strengthen your so-called market value which usually entails better financial benefits.

Embedded in the realities of global business, the PhD equips you with knowledge, real-world skills, and research competence. It is also about your potential – it will develop your skills, enhance your career opportunities and expand your professional networks. Whether you are seeking promotion or looking for a new career direction, an PhD demonstrates that you are an aspiring employee who is prepared to invest in your career.

Getting a higher salary after graduation, landing a top management position or even becoming your own boss are just a few of the extra advantages of the PhD .


Study Fees 2018/2019


The tuition fee for the doctoral programs is Euro 35,000.

The tuition fees can be paid in instalments, in accordance with a step-by-step plan consisting of 20 steps that will give structure to your study. Broadly speaking, candidates are expected to pay in three instalments as per payment plan below:

Payment Plan:

  • Application fee:       €      200.-
  • Enrollment fee:       € 12,000.- (before start of the program)
  • First Instalment:      € 12,000.- (at the beginning of the second academic year)
  • Second Instalment: € 11,000.- (at the beginning of the third academic year)

Application Procedures




NOTE: Do not fill in by hand and scan.
Hand written forms will not be accepted.

Application have to be sent
to the following address:
Swiss School of Management
University of Washington Rome Center
Piazza del Biscione 95
00186 Rome, Italy
Phone:  +39 06 4004 93 20


Apply for the PhD Program

PhD Application

Fill out the application form for the SSM program and send it back to us at to begin the process of applying.

Note: Application will not be reviewed until all documents have been received electronically and the application fee has been received.